Would you let researchers watch you sleep if they paid you $18,000?
Well, NASA did pay people for doing just that.
Participating in clinical trials and medical research studies is a great way to not only earn some extra cash but also to help further the science of medicine and health in general.
Some people may be horrified by the idea of submitting themselves to the testing of unproven drugs; others may be prepared to trust the tremendous amount of research and experimentation, as well as regulation, which occurs before drugs are allowed to be given to people.
On the bright side, if you take part in a clinical test, you may find that you can relax in bed for several days or weeks. What’s more, you will be paid compensation for your time and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you will be helping treatments improve.
In addition, the researchers will be paying close attention to your condition and bringing you the best in healthcare, should any problem arise.
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What will I learn?
What About Regulations?
There is a host of regulations dealing with drug testing on actual human beings. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tons of rules and regulations that aim to protect subjects of medical studies.
In fact, before any tests are carried out the research has to be approved by an independent Ethics Committee as suitable for volunteer testing.
Who Qualifies to Participate in Medical Studies?
Usually, to qualify you need to be healthy and between the ages of 18 and 80.
The particular research being undertaken will place further limitations on this, for instance specifying a certain age range.
Drug trials are normally Phase 1 studies, so at this stage, they are testing the drugs to ensure that there are no detrimental side effects or that these can be controlled, and to see the overall effect of taking the drugs.
Sometimes medical tests will require people with certain conditions, for example, diabetes.
You will always be given a thorough medical examination to check on your condition before they will accept you into the test.
How Much Do You Get Paid for Medical Testing?
As a rule, you will be reimbursed for expenses such as travel, and you will receive payment for the time you spend in a trial unit.
Medical trials may take anything from a few days to several weeks, and you may be asked to return later for follow-up tests.
You should expect to be offered about $100 per day you are in residence, but this depends on the researchers. It’s not unheard of for a payment of up to $8000 if you are required to stay in the testing unit for a few weeks.
How Do I Find (& Apply for) Clinical Trials near Me?
At any time, there are many research tests happening in all parts of the country.
You can look up the various companies taking part online, and see which are going to be running tests near you.
When you apply, you will usually be asked to come along for an initial interview where they will explain to you what the testing involves and establish your suitability and acceptance.
There are a number of websites that you can check out to see what the current situation is: –
The full name is Thomson Center Watch Clinical Trials Listing Service, and this is one of the main places on which you can check on anything to do with new drug development. In fact you can sign up to receive emails when any new drug trials are coming out.
If you look through the site you’ll find information on all sorts of research and results, and also drug directories. Researchers can also use it to look for available job postings.
This is another free online directory for anyone wanting to volunteer for drug trials. It is sponsored by the Biotrax Research Volunteer Support Group and covers worldwide trials.
You can use this website to have information of new drug trials emailed to you.
In addition, researchers will look on this site to try and find new volunteers that match the requirements.
You can take part in an active forum for volunteers, which discusses information about clinical trials as well as other health topics.
A government-run website from the National Institutes of Health, and maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
This contains comprehensive listings of drug trials, including those by the US Government and by international agencies.
Risks Associated with Participating in Drug Studies
It’s not unnatural to be concerned about the risks of taking drugs that haven’t been properly proven yet for human consumption.
After all, who wants to grow an extra limb or finish up horribly disfigured?!
But you have to realize that there are very strict rules on what can be practiced and tried out on the public, and every possible test and precaution is taken to ensure that the drugs are safe, and any side effects are likely to be minor.
Side effects may include random aches and pains, or perhaps headaches.
If you are on a trial, you will report the side effects and they will be assessed rapidly to make sure they are not critical. If they don’t go away, the most likely result is that you will be taken off the test and they will reassess the drug composition.
You are depending on the researchers and their work previously on the drug. You need to trust them if you are to take part in the trial, and that’s a personal assessment that you must make. You should not allow the idea of being paid to override any concerns that you may hold.
A Less Risky Alternative
If you can’t stomach the risks involved with ingesting new drugs, there are other ways you can volunteer and earn extra money at the same time.
Many universities conduct research studies that don’t require you to take drugs.
For example, Harvard Medical School’s Personal Genome Project (known as PGP) gathers saliva samples from volunteers for testing.
You can also participate in studies done by University psychology departments. You would still be helping medical professionals, but you wouldn’t be putting experimental drugs in your body.
Often you would simply have to answer some questions, and perhaps undergo a psychological examination. It may not pay as much, and in fact, some researchers may be looking for volunteers who do not expect payment. But usually, there is a budget associated with any research so you should get some compensation.
If you’re interested in this possibility, the best thing is to contact your local University psychology department and see what programs they have.
The Bottom Line
It can be interesting and fulfilling to take part in paid clinical trials, and you know you’re doing something towards the public good as well as being paid.
It’s up to each person to assess whether they want to sign up for drug testing and to understand any possible risks.
If you decide to do it, make sure that you question the researchers until you’re satisfied with their answers.